Travel dates: June 16-18, 2012
Travel method: 4.5 hours in a Blue Prius
Resort: HoJo Anaheim
Accommodations: Deluxe double Queen via Wyndham rewards points
Ages Represented in Group: 5, 37
Disney Resort Experience Represented in Group: multi-year APs, 3-5 visits per year
Cast of characters: Me, DD, DH
One of DD's best friends had his birthday on June 10th which prevented us from doing the paid AP previews. As more and more info started rolling in about Cars Land & Buena Vista Street it became clear that I was going to mentally fidget until we made our next trip to the Disneyland Resort, likely in November or December. We decided on Thursday (6/14) to brave the crowds and go for Father's Day before our SoCal APs were blocked for the summer and since we had enough rewards points for two free nights we would not have to pay summer rates for lodging.
Saturday June 16:
Due to another birthday party to attend, we were not able to start our drive down to Anahein until 5pm. We stopped in Thousand Oaks for dinner and continued our drive through pockets of slow traffic, arriving at the HoJo around 11pm.
Check-in was quick and we were given an Accessible room in building 2 that overlooked the Garden pool. The room was clean, spacious, and comfortable. After unpacking the car we got straight to bed since we needed to be up early to see what would face us in the Esplanade on the 3rd day of the newly re-opened Disney California Adventure.
Sunday June 17:
Since DCA's posted opening time was 8am and I knew that the Fast Passes for Radiator Springs Racers would run out quickly, we decided to shoot for being at the gate at 7am. Upon exiting bag check, I was very surprised to see no lines in the Esplanade and the gates open at 7:15am. We took in a bit of the new Buena Vista Street on the walk to the rope drop area and I noticed what looked like a line running along next to the Carthay Circle Theatre and back to the entry to Hollywood Land. Presuming it was a proto-line for the FP machines, I sent DH over with our passes while DD & I joined the masses at the rope area. At about 7:30am they dropped the ropes and we were off!
Thanks to the MousePlanet coverage of the preview days and the opening day, I convinced DD to make our first stop Luigi's Flying Tires rather Mater's Junkyard Jamboree. Most people went straight to RSR and the line for that was running down the right lane of Route 66. We parked the stroller next to the curio shop and I was overcome with emotion and excitement to see the CMs at Luigi's cheering us into the ride queue for the first run of the morning. I didn't stop to look at the indoor part of the queue in our haste to get to the ride. It took a little work to figure out how to move our tire and we spent most of the ride stuck along the edge.
We had only made it half way to Mater's when we stumbled upon DH. He had two FPs for RSR at 10:00am and one for 10:05am. The two 10am FPs also had bonus FPs for California Screamin' good for up to 6 people each. Since the line was still short we went back to Luigi's so he could ride too. This time I took in more of the details in the queue, both indoor and outdoor, during our 10 minute wait and on our way through a CM gave DD a Pink Cars button picturing "Princess Diamondlane." The second time it was easier to maneuver the tire so my next quest is actually getting to pick up a beach ball.
Next up was Mater's. Funny enough we were delayed getting to Mater's by Mater himself on his drive back to his photo op in front of the Cozy Cone Motel. The ride line was about 20 minutes and the signs in the queue were very entertaining. Shortly after we started someone's hat flew off and they had to stop the ride but once it was retrieved they started it again from the beginning. We didn't get the blooper reel song but we did hear it while waiting in line!
By 8:45am we had ridden Luigi's twice, Mater's once, and had an hour and 20 minutes until our RSR FP window opened. That meant it was time for breakfast at Flo's V8 Cafe! The restaurant decor is awesome. When we got to the head of the line there was a manager in addition to the costumed CM that was directing guests to registers to order. He chatted with us about our morning and went to find Cars buttons for DH and me so we could all have one. I got a purple "Dizzy U Turn" and DH got "Blue Turbobird". For breakfast DH had sides of scrambled eggs and bacon (he's GF & Paleo), DD had kids waffles, and I had a side of eggs and the irresistible Brioche French Toast with bananas and salted caramel. The French toast was delicious. It was like eating bread pudding for breakfast. The kids waffles were adorable with Mater on one side and Lightning McQueen on the other. We sat in the dining room that looked out toward the Cadillac Range and watched the riders and the line for RSR while we ate.
After breakfast we still had some time so we browsed The Curio Shop where I picked up an acrylic tumbler after leaving mine at home and DH bought a shirt at Ramone's. There was a Photopass photographer at the statue of Stanley and we got a picture taken there before heading over to the RSR FP return line.
The stand by time for RSR at 10:05am was posted as 270 minutes. The fast pass line took 13 minutes. DD had been insisting she did not want to ride RSR because she thought it would be too fast. Our usual mode is to respect her choices of ride refusal but because we only had one chance to ride without a huge wait I promised her a cone cup with soda in it and popcorn. Since we don't drink soda normally this was a huge treat and she couldn't resist. It was a great ride. Upon return DD said "That was fun! And I never have to ride it again!" She is considering riding it again on our next trip.
True to my word, I went straight to the Cozy Cones and got in line at Cone 3 for her cone cup after checking the line lengths and menus at the other Cones. This was the longest line I'd been in all morning with a 35 minute wait. Waiting in the sun worked up a thirst so in addition to her cone cup I ordered a lemonade but was given a pomegranate limeade. I had been considering it anyway so I gave it a try rather than correcting the order. It was good. I liked that the lime flavor resided in the foam rather than through the whole drink. I will be trying the other specialty drinks on future visits. Since we didn't know where there was a plain popcorn cart that reward waited until later.
At this point the day was getting uncomfortably warm so we decided to make our way back to the hotel for a swim & a rest via a meander through Buena Vista Street. We browsed through the shops from Elias & Co to Big Top Toys and caught the Red Car Trolley act with Mickey & the News Boys before exiting.
After our break we returned to DCA for dinner in the Pacific Wharf area. DD had the kids bean and cheese burrito and I had the carne asada and tamale plate from Cucina Cucamonga while DH got sides of meat and green curry sauce from Lucky Fortune Cookery. I enjoyed the carne asada but the tamale was rather bland and had too much masa so I don't think I would order it again. Afterward DH picked up an extra dark chocolate bar and DD and I shared a Strike It Rich sundae from the Ghirardelli shop. The sundae was big both in portion and in price so next time I will order a scoop with a topping instead.
With dessert in hand we made our way across to Hollywood Land for the Mad T Party.
I enjoyed it as much if not more than ElecTRONica and we played at the arcade for a bit after the band finished their first set. DD seemed to like the DJ selections better than the live band and the psychedelic human slinky was mesmerizing.
As it was getting dark we made our way back to Cars Land to see the neon lights come on. It was really fun to watch and I noticed that we weren't the only ones who looked to be standing around watching for it with a camera. DD wanted to ride Mater's again so they got in line and I left them to ride CA Screamin. Sadly, I was too late and they had already closed the coaster for WOC. After they got off Mater's we called it a day -- a very successful day. Shortly after we got back to our room the fireworks started and we ended up sitting on the floor in the hallway watching the show through a window.
Monday June 18:
Since we had been up late Saturday night and up early Sunday morning we didn't set an alarm for Monday. We had decided to spend our half day in Disneyland park and then try to get out early enough to miss the worst of the traffic through LA. Our belongings were packed and rolled down to the office for storage in the HoJo's luggage room. I really like that we did not have to move our car by a certain time or pay an extra parking fee.
First stop once inside the park was the Carnation Cafe. The wait for our table was less than 10 minutes but the wait for our food felt like at least 20-30 minutes. We were seated in the new inside area which was lovely. DH ordered sides again, DD had Mickey Waffles and I had the Heuvos Rancheros. They were delicious but I think I would have liked a side of fruit as well to contrast with the spicy in the sauce. It was great to see Chef Oscar again.
Once breakfast was devoured, a boat ride was in order so we walked through Adventureland to Pirates. There were maybe half a dozen people ahead of us in line. It was a lovely morning in New Orleans Square.
We made our way across to check out the Matterhorn line but stopped at the teacups instead. Thankfully, breakfast had settled by then. After we stopped spinning (well after the ride had finished) we decided to pay a visit to Merida. The line to meet Merida was 30 minutes which I expect will get much longer after Brave comes out this Friday. Merida was lovely and we found ourselves fighting the urged to speak to her in a mangled Scottish accent (ours, not hers). DD and DH both shot the arrows and we went back through to the coloring stations, the bean bag toss, and the wheel spin.
It was getting warm so we took a break in the coolness of Small World before splitting up so I could ride the Matterhorn and the others could find some lunch. The Matterhorn line was posted as 60 minutes but actually ran closer to 45 minutes. Sadly, I did not know about the single rider line until the next day. The new sleds are ... different. I'm not sure I can say better. I was concerned about getting in but that wasn't a problem for me and the ride felt smoother. Getting out took longer as it was challenging to get my feet under me with the nearly flat floor. Another downside for us is that DD is no longer willing to ride since she can't sit right up next to us.
While I was in line they went to Village Haus for lunch and then I got a Dole Whip before getting in line at the Jolly Holiday since that line always seems to move slowly. I had the Chicken Waldorf Sandwich. I always think I should try something new but I really like that sandwich so I always end up ordering it.After I finished my sandwich it was time to make the walk back to the HoJo to pack up the car for the drive home.
We were all really glad that we made the trip down to see Cars Land and everything else that had opened in the month between now and our Mother's Day weekend big family trip.